This past weekend, I and many other boxing fans had the pleasure of watching something special. Never before have I”ve ever witnessed an HBO card especially a triple-header having showcasing the Eastern European fighters. Some of us americans may call them Russian, even Russian President Vladmir Putin made a statement last year, regarding Ukrainians as still “Russians”. Call them what you want to call them but, you can’t deny the skills which were on display this past weekend. HBO in the past years has done a hell of a job building both Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev.
HBO looks like they are completey in a different direction with this showcasing of the Eastern European fighters. HBO has always been the home of american fighters but in 2017, that’s not the case. I mentioned this about 3-4 years ago on a podcast that it was evident HBO was moving on from American fighters when, Al Haymon took all of his stable of fighter to Showtime and then, we saw the emergence of Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev. Even outside of those 2, the biggest names HBO showcases are Philipino superstar Manny Pacquiao, Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez, and Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua. It seems like the only HBO fighter left from the states is Terrance Crawford.
This weeked showcase card displayed 3 Ukrainian fighters who all have Olympic medals and decorated amateur pedigrees. The first showcase on the HBO card started with Oleksandr Usyk defending his WBO cruiserweight title against Michael Hunter. Usyk, is a 6’3 southpaw who hails from Kiev, Ukraine. Not too many fighters intimidate me but, Usyk looks like someone who can play play Hannibal Lecture if there were ever a remake of “Silence of the Lambs”. In the first 3 rounds, I saw Hunter with jab and his unorthodox angles give Usyk a great deal of problems. In the 4th round, Usyk looks like he found his groove and didn’t look back as he controlled the fight from here on. Talk about getting a break int he 12th round cause, Hunter got saved by the referee. Usyk tried to close out the show and most likely, any other referee would have stopped that fight after the punishment Hunter took. Instead, Hunter was given a standing 8-count. Usyk took the fight with a unanamious decision from the judges. Solid showing from Usyk, but one thing that really concerned me was his stamina. If Usyk conditioning was better, he probably would have taken out Hunter. This fight was just the appetizer for the rest of the card.
The co-main event presented us with a light heavyweight bout between, Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs. Yunieski Gonzalez. Gvozdyk, who also hails from Ukraine and took home the bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics. Unlike Usyk, Gvozdyk didn’t play any games at all and took his opponent out in 3 rounds. The 1st round was actually competitive but after that, it was all Gvozdyk. The 3rd round specfically, was when Gvozdyk just battered and dropped to the canvas to the point his corner just had to wave the fight off. Gvozdyk made a statement that he’s someone to be on the look out for at the light heavyweight division.
On to the main event, where we had Vasyl Lomachencko defending his WBO Super Featherweight title against Jason Sosa. Straight up, this fight was a mismatch from the very start. Lomachenko hit Sosa at will and whenever he wanted to. This was the finest example of a bull being Sosa, versus the matador which was Lomachenko. There was a part in the fight at the end of the 5th round where, Lomachenko threw a stiff left hook to the body that hurt Sosa. Lomachenko then, mimicked Sosa by grabbing the left side of his body and proceeded to walk back to his corner like it was nothing. That right there, pretty much gave you the notion the fight was about to end soon. The fight was waved off in the 9th round given Lomachenko the TKO. Sosa fought a courageous fight and showed alot of heart but it just wasn’t enough for Lomachenko who was just surgically all night long.
Overall, I enjoyed this past weekends card. Lomachenko is clearly leading the way with this new pack of Eastern European fighters. I went on social media right after the event, specifically twitter and saw some jealousy toward the Ukranian/Eastern European fighter. “overrated this”, “overrated that”, wait until such and such get “exposed”. I truly believe this past weekend card, struck a nerve to fans and even fighters here in the states. HBO hasn’t put on alot of fights this year but, this card proved they’re still in the boxing game and not dealing with the so called “bullshit” from spoiled fighters here in the states. Boxing has and always will be a global sport and there’s enough talent across the Atlantic to showcase and carry on network TV.